A beloved bead shop has returned to the downtown Napa street where it started more than eight years ago.
After a hiatus in Petaluma, The Beaded Nomad is back on First Street, now at the corner of Coombs in the storefront formerly occupied by Art on Fire at 1149 First.
"It’s great to be back in Napa. This is home for us,” said owner Peggy Owens-Erridge.
Peggy, along with help of her husband, Craig Erridge, started The Beaded Nomad in Napa in 1994, at Dwight Murray Plaza, where the once controversial Clock Tower stood.
“We were also at 1238 First St.,” Peggy said.
Entering the store feels like being transported halfway around the globe to the Far East.
The walls are lined with ethic masks, ritual tools, textiles and other artifacts.
But the dominant product in the store is beads — thousands and thousands of them.
The tables and shelves are cluttered with mini-bowls holding every color and shape of bead, each with a hole in it for stringing. There is also a seemingly endless assortment of gemstones.
The store also has all the supplies to meet even the most finicky beadcrafter.
“Many of the people who come into the store are bead collectors and those who want to make their own jewelry,” Peggy said.
Peggy buys direct from importers. Most of the beads come from the Czech Republic.
“The Czech Republic has been in the bead business for hundreds of years. They make their own glass,” Peggy said. “Just like the Venetians, they have the best quality glass in the world.”
Beads have a ethnographic background, said Craig.
“Beads were created almost at the dawn of man. They would find a bead or rock, put a hole in it, string it and wear it around their neck,” he said.
“It used to be a form of currency. Beads can be precious metals as well as precious stones. They would string them and wear them. It was a form of carrying your wealth on you,” Craig said.
“Each stone has a story behind it. According to Love in the Earth – my gemstone bible — stones have been used for centuries for aliments. There are minerals in the stones and as long as the stone touches the skin the minerals will be absorbed through the skin into the body,” Peggy said.
Although, according to Peggy, most regular customers are beadcrafters, Craig can argue with that.
“Some of our best customers are fisherman. They want those shiny beads for lures,” he said. “It’s cheaper to buy them from us than at a fish and tackle shop.”
Other must-see items in the store include Tibetan silk handmade thangkas, which are used in mediation.
Masks from Africa and Tibet also hang from the walls.
“There is history that goes along with each mask,” Peggy said. “They have usually been worn for a celebration or ritual, such as a birth or death or a religious ceremony,”
The Beaded Nomad offers salvage piece of houses from Indonesia.
“All the houses there are built of wood. They either rot from weather or insects. A company buys the pieces of the wood and sells them for the facade for homes in America.”
Rounding out the inventory are mud cloth textiles from Africa. Peggy also offers a large selection of unique jewelry from all over the world.
How did The Beaded Nomad come to be?
“It all started with a broken necklace many years ago. I took it to a bead store where we living in Palo Alto. They sold me a repair kit, and I was hooked,” she said.
“I don’t have much time to bead, but I am and will always be a collector.”
The present site of The Beaded Nomad has seen a variety of tenants, including a wine tasting room, a cafe, resale clothing store and most recently Art on Fire. But The Beaded Nomad is the first established business to move into the space.
“I’m so happy to be back. I love working with people, especially those who share my passion for beads,” Peggy said with a wide grin.
Vital Stats: The Beaded Nomad, 1149 First St., Napa: (707) 252-3060. Open Tuesday-Saturday 11-6, Sunday 12-5, closed Monday.
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